It’s out of this world: exploring the use of virtual reality technology for enhancing perceptual-cognitive skill in tennis

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Le Noury, Peter (2021) It’s out of this world: exploring the use of virtual reality technology for enhancing perceptual-cognitive skill in tennis. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


The aim of this thesis was to increase our understanding of how virtual reality (VR) can be applied to assess and train pattern recognition and decision-making skill in sport, specifically the sport of tennis. There has been a growing interest in using VR for training perceptual- cognitive skill in sport; however, for VR training to effectively simulate real-world performance, it must recreate the contextual information and movement behaviours present in the real-world environment. Although it is well established that skilled performers can effectively use prior sources of contextual information to enhance anticipation performance compared to lesser skilled performers, little is known about the relative difficulty of identifying different types of contextual information and the requisite regularity of patterns to influence anticipation. Moreover, there is a lack of research assessing the effect of using more representative experimental tasks on anticipation and decision-making behaviour. Therefore, study one of this thesis assessed the representativeness of VR for simulation of tennis performance. Participants included 28 skilled tennis players aged between 12 to 17 years (M = 14.4, SD = 1.6). Participants sense of presence was assessed VR, and participants movement behaviours were compared when playing tennis in VR and real-world environments. The results showed that when performing groundstrokes, participants frequently used the same stance in VR as they did in the real-world condition and experienced a high sense of presence. Study two of this thesis used VR to assess the ability of 28 skilled tennis players aged between 13 and 18 years (M = 15.7, SD = 1.4) to identify two specific serving patterns being used by opponents. These serving patterns related to the opponent’s action tendencies, with a wide serve pattern connected to the side of the court the point started from (advantage side), and a tee serve pattern connected to the point score in the game (0-0). Participants were assessed on their ability to identify serving patterns by controlling how frequently patterns occurred during matches. Results revealed that patterns need to occur at high frequencies (100% of the time) during matches for skilled juniors to utilise this information to inform their anticipation responses. Study three of this thesis used VR to train 5 skilled tennis players aged between 14 and 18 years (M = 16, SD = 1.67) to utilise patterns of play when they occur at lower frequencies (80% of the time). Additionally, the influence of explicit instructions and no-instruction on learning and performance under pressure was assessed. It was found that exposure to patterns coupled with explicit instructions resulted in faster changes to response time and response accuracy performance, compared to no-instruction learning. Furthermore, instructions during training did not affect performance under pressure conditions. Overall, this thesis extends the perceptual-cognitive skill literature through its use of VR technology and methods of assessing task representativeness. Moreover, this thesis helps guide the design of future perceptual-cognitive skill research through the manipulation of contextual information in the VR environment and use of more implicit and explicit instructional methods to train decision-making performance.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4207 Sports science and exercise
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4607 Graphics, augmented reality and games
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Health and Sport
Keywords virtual reality; perceptual-cognitive skill; tennis; train pattern recognition; decision-making
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